Shortage of Officers: Work in the Tripura Administration Severely Slows Down

Jayanta Debnath

When the Chief Minister of Tripura wants to make Tripura a   model state in 3 years (16 months remains)  less than half of the required number of officers and employees are now running the Tripura administration. In the state administration, other than the IAS, IPS, IFS officers, there are 14 states own cadre services. There is not even a single cadre service in the state where officers and employees are posted on actually sanctioned numbers and deployed as per requirement.

Notably, altogether five senior IAS officers in the cadre list   are currently posted in central Government on deputation. The current Chief Secretary of the state Dr U Venkateswaralu ( 1986 batch)  retired on November 30, 2019 and he is replaced by  Manoj Kumar (1990 batch), who is currently seniormost IAS officer posted in the state administration, followed by S.K.Rakesh (1990 batch)  and Kumar Alok (1990 batch). 

But currently, Dr GSG Ayyangar (1986 batch) was the senior most IAS officer in the queue for the chief secretary post. But he is on deputation in Central administration and don't want to came back. Therefore, number six in IAS seniority list Shri Manoj Kumar (1990 batch), who is  available in the state became the Chief secretary of the state.  At present, the senior most Tripura cadre IAS officers who are on deputation to Delhi, and senior to Manoj Kumar  other than Dr. GSG Ayyangar, are Sushil Kumar (1987 batch), Dr Rakesh Sarwal (1988 batch), Dr K Rajeshwar Rao (1988 batch) and Lok Ranjan (1989 batch) respectively. Reportedly, none  of them is willing to return to the state, and that's the reason   Manoj Kumar chosen for the post of Chief Secretary of the state.

It is worth to mention that there is crisis not only of the IAS and IPS, but  TCS, TPS officers are also much short of required numbers. 

As per the record, the number of IAS officer's cadre strength in the state is 102. But there are currently only 65  IAS officers appointed in the state. However, among them, half of the IAS officers are on deputation to the outside states / Central government. The deputation of many IAS and IPS officers has expired. But they do not want to come back. In the event of shortage of officers, an officer has to be given three to four departments' responsibilities because of the crisis.

Similarly, there is a severe crisis of IPS officers in the state also at the moment. There should be a minimum of 69 officers in the IPS cadre service in the state. But there are only 46 of them available. About half of the IPS officers are on deputation to the other state organizations or in central government.

Not only in civil or Tripura police administrations, acute shortage of staff has adversely affected the working of the state agriculture and farmers welfare department and health department too. According to a government notification, altogether 298 posts in the agriculture department are lying vacant, out of the total strength of 386.

Similarly, Tripura health department is also facing problems due to shortage of doctors and nurses.  Tripura Public Service Commission (TPSC) had called an interview for recruitment of 409 medical officers under Tripura Health Service (THS) in the month of June of last year. Around 370 candidates applied for the interview. Among them few didn't appear for the interview. Only 288 candidates were found eligible for government health service among the candidates who appeared.

Now the point of analysis is that present government appealed repeatedly to the doctors of state working in other states to come back and to serve their home land, but they are not even able to catch hold of doctors who are willing to serve the government or were already in service.

Similarly, the state is facing acute shortages of nurses too. While the Medical Council of India recommends a nurse-patient ratio of 1:3, the reality is far in Tripura.  At present there are 1,777 nurses available and the shortage is 5,405 nurses.

The BJP-led Tripura government has decided that fresh recruitments to government services should be restricted to the number of retirements which take place each year. Tripura has the highest number of government jobs in the country and the expenditure on salaries (including establishment expenses), pensions and debt repayment constitutes about 80% of its expenditure, leaving very little money for development activities. A finance department memorandum issued on December 17, 2018 by Chief Secretary stated that, “Tripura already has the highest level of government employment in the country, fresh recruitment should be restricted to the retirements taking place in a year.

Hence, any proposal for filling up vacant posts should be accompanied by information of the retirement profiles of the department, that is, the number of retirements taking place during the year. The memorandum further states that the government had to take this step as salaries constitute the largest item of expenditure and it was necessary to exercise financial prudence and discipline while committing expenditure under these heads.

It has been reported that in the last three years, more than three dozen officers have retired from the state secretariat administration itself. Altogether 20 thousand officers and employees, including teachers, retired from the state administration over the past 2 years. But the vacancies have never been filled as requires at any level. Due to the controversial SC/ST reservation case pending before the Supreme Court, deserving officers among candidates are not being promoted to the vacant posts. In this situation, the administration's normal functioning is severely hampered in Tripura government.

Meanwhile, Special Secretary to the State Election Department, Pramath Ranjan Bhattacharya and Secretary of the Department of Finance N. Darlong will be retiring on November 30, 2019; in addition, the Health Secretary Dr. Debashish Bose is also retiring on January 1, 2020. In this situation, the crisis of experienced officers in the state administration in the near future is likely to intensify.

On the other hand, the recruitment of new officers and promotion in officers posts is stalled.  At the same time due to the departure of a significant number of officers/employees every year on retirement and in the absence of new recruitment in vacant posts, work is severely hampered from the district administration to the state Secretariat administration and  administrative work is severely suffering.

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